Let’s set the record straight. The land that was grabbed on Saturday morning rightfully belongs to more than 150 poor families who have refused to sell their homes to 7NG for the pittance that was offered to them. Most of these families have the documentation to prove their possession rights under the 2001 Land Law. Moreover, these families were beneficiaries of the Social Land Concession granted to the entire community by the Council of Ministers in 2003, and the Development Plan, which called for a land-sharing arrangement with a private company in exchange for onsite upgrading.
To justify their claims over the land, the 7NG company relies on a dubious agreement signed with former community representatives to exchange the villagers’ homes for flats at the Damnak Treyoeng site outside Phnom Penh. This agreement was immediately rejected by most Dey Krahorm families, who dismissed their former “representatives” and filed a civil complaint against them for breach of trust, along with a separate complaint to cancel the contract.
Law on their side
Article 66 of the 2001 Land Law states:
“A person with Khmer nationality and with capacity to enter into a contract may sell or purchase immovable property.” Yet, the following persons may not sell: “A person who is not the owner of the property offered for sale.”
The so-called former representatives had no legal capacity to sell the villagers’ land. 7NG’s agreement is, therefore, null and void under the law.
An unbiased investigation into the facts will reveal that the Dey Krahorm families have legal rights that have been consistently denied by the competent authorities. The families are under no legal obligation to accept the company’s compensation offer. They have every right to reject it and remain on their land and in their homes. This is not a case of expropriation of land for public interest purposes. It is a case of a private company using armed force to acquire other people’s private property for their personal profit. Company representatives are on record stating that they do not even know how they intend to develop the site. Therefore, if they want this land, they need to offer the residents a price that they are willing to accept.
However, instead of offering a mutually agreed price for the land, the company and the authorities forcibly removed the families and demolished their homes and property. This action was illegal.